Posted by News Express | 21 September 2018 | 3,121 times
The apprehension enveloping Imo State and its political space ahead of party primaries was earlier predicted by bookmakers. The build-up to the contemporary events had signalled a frightening danger and palpable fear as elicited by unguarded actions of some political actors whose unwholesome activities are tailored to either instigate disharmony or inflict destruction within the ranks of major political parties, as candidates emerge for 2019 elections.
This concern is genuinely felt in many quarters as Imolites, mostly the electorate, show greater interest in the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), as a viable platform that can deliver genuine rescue operations and redeem the state from the wanton destructions and tight grip of Gov Rochas Okorocha, whose desperation to install his son-in-law as the next governor of the state has alarmingly heightened to a crescendo.
In absolute concurrence with a recent submission of Capt Emmanuel Iheanacho - the 2015 governorship candidate of APGA and currently a Board of Trustees (BOT) member - the soul of Imo APGA was domiciled in Owerri zone from its inception and formation. As a party well accepted by Owerri zone, especially Owerri Federal Constituency, APGA historically produced the first Imo federal lawmaker that represented the constituency (2003-2007) in the person of Hon. Uche Onyeagocha.
After that moment, APGA's tortuous era began to unfold. The party in 2015 showed a strong presence in Imo gubernatorial contest but was massively rigged out.
As Ihenacho noted, “2015 was the first time APGA really contested for election in Imo State. In 2007, there was no contest as it was a political arrangement that nearly brought an APGA governorship candidate to power. In 2011, there was a widespread delusion which made people vote the incumbent under APGA platform. So, it was in 2015 that APGA organised itself by mapping out strategies and resources to contest the election in Imo State.
“We knew what we did and the extent we covered. If you ask people who knew what transpired, especially the security agencies that closely monitored the election, they will tell you the volume of APGA materials and votes that were deliberately destroyed during the exercise. So, we didn't garner 28,000 votes but were rigged out. We had more than that number as members in Imo State and couldn't have just polled only 28,000 votes. I believe that APGA won the 2015 election, but was robbed.”
Without disputing the submissions of the Marine captain, who singlehandedly funded his campaigns and sponsored the party to a large extent, it is a fact that APGA was largely engulfed by internal wrangling, self-induced destruction and treachery ahead of the 2015 polls. The unwholesome and retrogressive activities that aided to whittle down the party's hitherto bright chances was orchestrated and sponsored by one of the current aspirants from Mbaise clan after he lost the governorship ticket in 2015.
It is obviously disturbing that similar scenario has again begun to rear its ugly head, as APGA prepares to conduct its primaries for 2019 polls. With reference to a back page article entitled ‘Is APGA Emekuku Political Party’in the September 14 edition of an Owerri-based tabloid - Nigerian Moment - credited to one Jonathan Amadi, a discerning reader is left to wonder what may have induced the publication of such a fabricated and baseless article, if not to reintroduce the same destructive antics and pull-down syndrome that diminished APGA and its governorship candidate before the 2015 election.
The infantile and banal disposition of the writer and the sponsors manifested when they extended their tirade to the revered Archbishop AJV Obinna of Owerri Catholic Diocese, after a failed attack on Ihenacho, leader of the party in Imo State, Mr Nick Opara-Ndudu and Hon Uche Onyeagocha, both frontline governorship aspirants from Owerri zone.
Archbishop Obinna’s sin could be his Emekuku biological background and leaning. It is, therefore, disgusting and most unpalatable for someone aspiring to govern Imo State at this most trial moment to launch a malicious and unjustified attack, apparently to malign anointed servant of God, hiding under the cloak of politics. Such character, if allowed to ascend to power, shall be worse and more destructive than the incumbent governor. Obinna does not meddle in the partisan activities of any political party. Neither does he belong to APGA. He has not anointed any candidate from any of the political parties.
It is true that the Archbishop has consistently descended on bad leaders, invoking the divinity of God and powers of the pulpit. He has vocally criticised bad policies of the government, including the notorious ones promoted and championed in Imo State and Nigeria that have continually driven bad leadership. On the other hand, the Catholic cleric prays and admonishes the electorate against making mistakes in choosing future leaders in future elections. Is this a crime? How does a right-thing fellow misconstrue and reduce such divine admonition and condemnation of bad leadership to an Emekuku affair? The divinely fortified altar of God should be respected and adored. Those individuals wishing to destroy everything in sight, including the altar of God to emerge governor of Imo State, should rather think twice and desist from dragging the anointed servants of God into the murky waters of partisan politics.
It is also malicious for anyone to denigrate Emekuku people on the basis of politics, and for contributing to the sustenance of APGA in Imo political mainstream.
“Emekuku people are Owerri people, and Owerri people are Emekuku people and all Imolites, including Owerri people, have the right to participate in any election. What matters most is the skills and competence one brings to the position he/she aspires to occupy. If Imo people think that an Emekuku man is good and competent enough to be the governor of Imo State, then the people will vote for an Emekuku man. An Emekuku man cannot withdraw from a contest just because he is an Emekuku man,” Iheanacho said, adding:
“An Emekuku man or any other Imolite will rather rely on the totality of his skills, competence and the character he brings to bear to win any position he aspires to occupy. So, I think it is mischievous for people to make such baseless and unfounded allegations against Emekuku people. In fact, the said write-up was sponsored by some people who want to sow seeds of discord and destruction ahead of 2019 election, in the same manner, they did in 2015 when paid hack-writers harassed the party's governorship candidate, undermined and de-marketed him. I have seen the same modus operandi, and I have also seen the same mischievous individuals at work.”
Going forward, the criteria will expectedly determine and possibly decide who flies the APGA governorship flag in Imo. The decisive factors, symbolically, relate to equity/zoning, competence, articulated programmes and vision, financial capacity, acceptability, character and loyalty and adaptability to the party's ideology. Whoever that emerges the party's governorship candidate is expected to run and sustain the programmes of the party as well as strengthen the platform for future political engagements. To win the governorship of Imo State under APGA and abandon the platform, the way and manner Okorocha did, will be the greatest undoing of any aspirant.
This may be the reason Iheanacho, who insists that 2019 APGA ticket is still domiciled in Owerri, re-echoed that the ticket will be clinched by the aspirant that shows greater capacity in terms of well-articulated vision, character and goodwill; and not by sentiments amplified by hack-writers, nor by monetary inducement.
In strengthening his argument, Iheanacho affirmed: “The leaders of the party, including the national working committee (NWC), state exco and the Board of Trustees (BoT) must take all these factors into account in choosing who will be the party's governorship candidate. What we must not allow is choosing a moneybag who will pay huge amount of money to delegates to emerge as the party's governorship candidate. We must exercise discretion to ensure that money plays a minimal effect on who emerges the party's governorship candidate.
“What should be paramount is the character of the individual, acceptability, validity of assumptions he makes in respect to the programme he is going to enunciate. All of these good qualities and the track record of the aspirants should be paramount. If you have never articulated any vision for the development of Imo State; if you have not done anything really in the past that we can relate with regard to capacity - as someone who wants to govern an enterprise as big as Imo - forget it! APGA's governorship ticket is not meant for you. The party leaders should be in a position to decide, considering the fact that the decision of the party is final no matter the amount anybody may have spent.”
The position of Iheanacho, therefore, pulls some challenges and responsibilities before the leaders of Owerri zone. A repetition of events of 2015 with regard to in-house fighting and treachery that downed APGA should be carefully avoided. Aspirants and leaders of the zone should rather work harmoniously to ensure that someone with a record of competence and capacity clinches the governorship ticket. That is the surest way forward for Owerri zone and Imo APGA.
•Uzoukwa, a seasoned journalist and PR practitioner, is currently pursuing his Doctorate Degree on Mass Communication in Imo State University (IMSU), Owerri.
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